“I’d rather not have to get into it. In fact, I’d rather kiss a snake.”
— A Small Business Client

Why do we make the ‘dollars discussion’ so challenging? During a recent coaching call, my client sounded highly stressed. Her voice was straining, like her vocal chords were over-stretched.

When I asked her what was her biggest challenge at this moment, she didn’t talk about her rapidly-growing business, or the balance issues in her life, nor even how much she accomplished since our last session. She wanted to know if I’d negotiate salary with a potential new hire.

I found this interesting, because one of the key things we coaches work on with our clients is openness and clearing out past issues.

So there it was, right in front of us — the salary issue. (Maestro, some terribly ominous music, please).

After asking for clarification, she described the process as something that she felt ‘cheapened’ both sides.

There’s the coy candidate, usually not revealing current or desired compensation (often because of training by so-called experts who teach job seekers how to get the best salary), and the stingy (frugal, cheap, tight – fill in your own adjective) employer, who fears the offer might be an insult.

Well, if you want to feel better about making a job offer here’s some thoughts:

1. Do your homework. Find out what the market is paying, not only in your industry, but overall, in your geographic marketplace.

2. Plan. Then stick to it.

3. Be open about the salary amount. Float a ‘trial balloon at least twice and say something like, “If we offer you $75,000 in salary, plus the benefits we’ve discussed, does that fit with what you’re looking for?” If they agree, then consider that a ‘conditional’ acceptance of the offer.

4. Avoid giving a ‘salary range’. Any candidate who is given a salary range will surely be attracted by the ‘top’ range amount as their target — not the bottom.

5. Once you’ve gained cooperation with the candidate, let him/her know if a salary offer is firm. The games they play will most likely stop because money is pretty straightforward — either yes or no. If there is still wavering, then unresolved issues exist.